Transitional periods in our lives can be quite difficult. The stress resulting from change is usually enough to make us doubt our initial decision of life modification. Nevertheless, we trudge onward, because normally going backward is not an option. Earlier in the week I was reminded of my own career changes from musician to publishing. The period of change was not quick, in fact the overall transition took a period of several years. The changes left some holes in my life, but also built a few bridges that are still useful today.
While working in the music industry, I was introduced to literally thousands of other artists, producers, business owners, and more. Of course I did lose contact with some, but many provided invaluable sources of help as I moved on to the next life venture. I thought about all of this a while ago as I read about our featured artist this week, Kelly Lang.
Kelly was born the youngest of 4 children in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Her father, Velton Lang, was the road manager of Country superstar, Conway Twitty for over 25 years. Kelly recorded her first Billboard single, “Lady, Lady” at the age of 15, filmed a video that came to the attention of CMT—, and in rapid fire time was soon appearing as a regular on Nashville’s popular Ralph Emery Morning Show. Kelly’s teen years were a whirlwind that found the dark haired, green-eyed beauty poised on the very edge of a breakthrough to major stardom. She moved to national attention as a frequent guest on the highly popular Music City Tonight, with Crook & Chase, televised on TNN. Kelly next made the finals of Ed McMahon’s popular weekly-televised Star Search— bringing her vibrant, emotion filled vocal style to mainstream audiences.
Kelly became a semi-regular artist on Ralph’s Emery’s popular “Nashville Now” on TNN, pulling in major viewer mail and a large national fan base. On the road in concert, Kelly shared billings with legends such as Barry Gibb, Ronnie Milsap, Brenda Lee, George Jones, Lorrie Morgan, Ricky Skaggs, TG Sheppard and many of the hot new artists from her own peer group. Kelly has made music her true passion. Along with balancing a busy career as a performing artist, Kelly is a highly sought after and accomplished songwriter and producer. Kelly’s songs have been featured on the major motion picture screen and have been recorded by artists such as Lorrie Morgan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Crystal Gayle, George Jones, BJ Thomas, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Janie Frickie to name a few.
Without a doubt, Kelly Lang’s long and illustrious music career has helped her meet a wide variety of popular musicians and many others involved in the music industry. Sometimes just knowing someone who knows another person can be enough to forge a successful business relationship. That was how I found some of the better music engineers whom I worked with years ago. For Kelly Lang those relationships have blossomed into much more than mere business arrangements. On August 21, 2007 Kelly Lang and singer TG Sheppard were married in a star-studded ceremony in Tennessee.
Personal relationships and business are sometimes strange, if not interesting bedfellows. There are times when it all falls apart and strains the business aspect of the partnership. Then there are times when family and friends can be a true asset to balancing success and private life. Kelly Lang has been surrounded by musicians her entire life, and that usually is the recipe for a young person choosing the music industry for a career. Most young people find it easier to follow their circle of influence, and Kelly Lang has found music as her passion. Moreover, that long list of musician friends has provided a nice pool of accompanying talent for the singer/songwriter.
Over the past couple of weeks I took time to listen to some of Kelly Lang’s music, as I normally do when planning to feature any artist. Her critically acclaimed Shades of K is one of the greatest albums for those moments when you just want to relax and listen to something soothing. It is filled with great classic songs that include impeccable musical arrangements. As I listened it gave me real insight into the singer Kelly Lang. I was able to truly hear her voice and interpretation of the songs and enjoy them. When any of you get an opportunity, download Shades of K and enjoy.
Kelly Lang is not slowing down from making music. No, she is continuing with the job of bringing music and joy to large concert audiences. She is also working on a new album project. In fact, a few weeks ago when Kelly Lang’s long-time friend Paul Shaffer visited Nashville for vacation, they did what most musicians do. They made music, recording a track for her upcoming album in their first studio session together. “I’ve known Paul forever, but we’d never had the chance to perform together,” said Lang. “He came down on vacation to see me, check out Nashville, and do a show. After that, we decided, ‘Why not record this for the record’?” Shaffer had originally come to town to visit Lang and to play a July 4th show as Lang’s special guest. Lang is a regular performer in the annual Remembering Conway Twitty show at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. This year, she performed “Goodbye Darling,” a song she wrote about Twitty. For her second song, she chose “Last Date,” a song Twitty fans know for the moving lyrics he wrote to the Floyd Cramer tune.
It was the magic of “Last Date” Shaffer and Lang decided to capture when they made it into the studio. “It’s just such a magical song, and Paul brings so much to it, so much feeling and passion,” Lang said. “You can hear it all on the record when it comes out. And there’s a lot of surprises, too.” Lang is playing it close to the vest about the songs she’s including on the album. And, while she won’t reveal the full song list or popular names that might find their way into the credits, she does say people will be surprised and pleased with the collection, which she likens to her last album of classic songs, Shades of K.
Now we can look forward to another wonderful album. We will soon hear the musical magic that comes from Kelly Lang and her Friends and Family.
* photo by Jarrett Gaza